Nicoya Peninsula

Some of the most beautiful beaches and wondrous valleys in the world are located on the Nicoya Peninsula making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Costa Rica. This unique and diverse peninsula stretches from the Northern border of the Central Pacific region in the east, to the southern border of Guanacaste in the West.  The landscape is one of wet and dry forests spread out over mountains and valleys that all seem to lead to the sea.  


Small picturesque towns with names like Tambor, Mal Pais, Santa Teresa, Samara, and Nosara dot the lush coast and play host to all inclusive resorts, world class hotels,  golf courses, surf schools, yoga retreats and much much more. There are several National Parks and Reserves on the peninsula including Marino Baulas, Refugio Curu, Reserva Cabo Blanco, and Barra Honda that offer everything from scuba diving to cave exploration. If you are looking for a beautiful area of Costa Rica that is "off the beaten path" yet packed with things to do and beautiful scenery, we suggest you learn more about the Nicoya Peninsula Region. To find a list of hotels, restaurants, tour companies and more, go to our homepage and use the interactive map or use the search bar at the top of this page.


There are a few ways to arrive on the Nicoya Peninsula. The ferry from Puntarenas will take you to Playa Naranjo or Paquera. We suggest heading to Playa Naranjo if you are traveling north-west and want to explore the upper reaches of the Golfo Nicoya and the Nicoya Peninsula while traveling towards the popular beach towns of the "Golden Coast" like El Coco, Tamarindo etc. If your goal is to explore the beach towns of the Nicoya peninsula, we suggest sailing to the port town of Pacquera, which is located 20km to the south of Playa Naranjo and offers easier access to the beaches of southern Nicoya. If you would rather drive and not take the ferry, go north from Puntarenas on CI 1 to Limonal where it connects with Highway 18 and takes you over "Puente La Amistad" (Friendship Bridge) to cross the Golfo Nicoya (Gulf of Nicoya). You can drive all the way to Samara on paved roads if you then take Hwy 21 west to the bustling town of Nicoya then head south on Hwy 150. The trip from Puntarenas to Samara is roughly 2.5 hours. You can also fly to the larger towns on the Nicoya Peninsula from San Jose or Liberia via charter flights.

Things To Do

The fishing is spectacular in this region. You can spear fish just off the shore in many of the bays or go offshore by boat, just make sure you are not in protected waters.  We recommend going with professionals until you gain understanding of the area. 

The main attractions in the Nicoya peninsula are the beaches and amazing sunsets. Take time to unwind and put your toes in the sand. 

Scuba and Snorkeling are favorite activities of the area. There are tons of beaches where you can see exotic sea life just off shore. 

Where there is a wave, there are surfers. The region is home to some of the best waves in Costa Rica. Surf Schools and Camps can help you learn this popular sport. 


Main Attractions / Towns

Cabo Blanco Nature Rerserve Mal Pais                  Montezuma   
Nicoya Nosara Ostional Nature Reserve
Playa Carrillo Samara Santa Teresa

Where to Stay

Whether you choose to stay along the shores of the Nicoya Gulf (Golfo de Nicoya)  or the Pacific Ocean our list of accommodations with guide you to the right hotel, villa or resort. 

Getting Around

The Nicoya Region is known for bad roads conditions although the main roads in and out of the region are paved and easy to navigate.  The best way to navigate the Nicoya is to talk with locals and gain their insight into which routes are best for your destination. Companies offering private transfers have sprung up to accommodate the need for safe travel. Local taxis are a great way to get to the beaches from the inland towns. Buses are also an inexpensive option if you can work around their schedule. 

Where To Go From Here

It is easiest to travel into the North Pacific Region but the Central Valley or the Central Pacific Regions are also accessible from the Nicoya Peninsula.  If you are traveling east from the Nicoya peninsula, you can take the ferry from Paquera or Playa Naranjo. If Tamarindo and Guanacaste are your next destinations, we suggest that you talk to a local and find which routes are in the best shape for travel, or just take the paved roads.

Photos Contributed by: "Sarah and lain" under CC license, "BizoSilva" under this CC license